APR 15, 2017 07:14 AM PDT

This is the First Cave Fish Ever Found in Europe

While cave-dwelling fish might be somewhat of a regularity in certain parts of the world, you used to be able to count Europe out of that equation. Cave fish were unheard of in the region and it was long believed that Pleistocene glaciations caused roadblocks for their Northerly development and habitation.

It wasn’t until recently that a hobby diver equipped with an underwater camera named Joachim Kreiselmaier discovered what appeared to be Europe’s first-known cave-dwelling fish in the depths of the Danube-Aach system. The fish appeared unique to him at first sight, so he grabbed some photographs to take with him to the surface. It has been described in the journal Current Biology as pale and having small eyes.

The newly-discovered European cave fish is a first for Europe.

Image Credit: Jasminca Behrmann-Godel

"The cave fish was found surprisingly far in the north in Southern Germany," said study lead author Jasminca Behrmann-Godel from the University of Konstanz in Germany. "This is spectacular as it was believed before that the Pleistocene glaciations had prevented fish from colonizing subterranean habitats so far north."

It appears to be a loach of some sort; a type of bottom-dwelling fish that scavenges the deepest depths of the sea floor for opportunistic food sources.

Not only was it surprising to find a cave-dwelling fish in Europe to begin with, but the specimen was also the Northernmost cave fish ever discovered in the world. No researchers ever believed that a cave fish would ever be discovered so far North in the first place.

Because the Pleistocene glaciations would have kept them from migrating to Europe from another location in the world, it's believed that they might have evolved recently, within the last 20,000 years or so, and are specific to this particular region.

Related: Why these fish are finding a way to cope on land

"It took someone with the 'right eye' to realize that this might be something special and I believe that, on top of the right conditions and the difficult trip, this discovery depended on an exceptional diver like Joachim to realize in the first place that the fish might be special," Behrmann-Godel continued.

Because it caught so much attention, Kreiselmaier reportedly went diving again just a few months later to capture a live specimen for scientists to study up close. Since the photographs were just the tip of the iceberg for researchers, getting a live specimen was the best way to really study the creature up close and realize they had been looking at something special.

The discovery of this loach in a region where it was supposedly never supposed to exist is bringing with it a lot of attention and excitement to explore the region where Kreiselmaier originally dove. On the other hand, not too many divers have successfully explored the region due to its dangerous conditions, and Kreiselmaier explains why:

"No more than 30 divers have ever reached the place where the fish have been found," he noted. "Due to the usually bad visibility, strong current, cold temperature, and a labyrinth at the entrance, most divers do not come back again for diving."

It should be interesting to see what future diving missions might uncover, and whether or not there could be more undiscovered species in the region that could challenge our scientific understanding of what exists there.

At this point in time, Antarctica is the last remaining continent in the world where cave fish have never been discovered.

Source: BBC, Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 28, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUN 28, 2018
How the weed industry is killing off California's wildlife
The marijuana industry is pushing several endemic species into threat, and at the top of the list is the cute but savage Humboldt marten. The Center for Bi...
JUL 03, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 03, 2018
'Self-destruct switch' may let plants turn genes on and off quickly
The repressive structures that plants use to keep genes turned off involves a potential self-destruct switch, a new study suggests. The findings offer insi...
JUL 18, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
JUL 18, 2018
Light controls variants of active ingredient in cannabis
Chemists have synthesized several variants of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The ability to alter its structure with light has led to a new tool f...
AUG 20, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 20, 2018
Worker Ants Intelligently Regulate Tunnel-Digging Efforts to Avoid Jams
At first glance, any burrows look just like tiny dirt mounds on the ground. But just beneath these inconspicuous little mounds are complex mazes comprised ...
SEP 02, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 02, 2018
Ever Wonder How Whales Became So Large?
Among the most massive living animals on Earth today are blue whales, but have you ever stopped to think about how they became so large in the first place?...
SEP 12, 2018
Health & Medicine
SEP 12, 2018
Can This Exotic Fruit Prevent Obesity?
Not a week goes by that there isn’t a new superfood or some exotic fruit or spice that can curb your appetite, burn fat while you sleep, and boost en...
Loading Comments...